Berlin Quarterly #3
Each of the three issues of Berlin Quarterly has centred on a different location: the first was Belgrade, the second Norway, and the new one moves its focus to Beirut. Yet the magazine doesn’t feel like it travels around in the same way that Boat does; the ‘European Review of Culture’ is tonally more in tandem with literary journals like The Paris Review or Granta, but with a lot of visual art thrown into the mix.
It wouldn’t be surprising if the next issue no longer focused on a particular place: the quarterly uses its themes more as guidance than rigid structure, creating not so much a portrait of a place but combing fiction, poetry and in-depth reportage to form a series of personal impressions. This issue is guest edited by Ibrahim Nehme, founder and editor-in-chief of Beirut-based The Outpost, the magazine about ‘possibilities in the Arab World’. His opening essay, written in the style of new journalism, sets the candid and personable tone, accompanied by still and gently evocative photos by Tanya Traboulsi (above).
The reading experience throughout Berlin Quarterly is very clean (below) – two-columns on a white page will always be the best way to read a lot of text. Its bookish format also makes for easy reading. The large page numbers positioned at the top and bottom of the page are a bit like chapter headings – a small, unusual dash of personality.
For poetry, the font size is increased so that the reader dwells longer on the words (above), and a dark green background contributes to the change in pace and tone. A short essay about the 16th Century German printmaker Lorenz Stöer similarly uses a large font size: the essay stretches languorously alongside all eleven of the unknown artist’s surviving woodcuts (below).
Especially beautiful is Jon Tonks’ photographic series ‘Empire’ (above), a short story about an engagement dinner party in Beirut by Liane Al Ghusain, and a fragmentary, puzzle-like artwork called ‘Circle of Confusion’ by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige (below).
Berlin Quarterly takes heed from great literary journals, but it also has an attentive eye for visual imagery and graphic design. It’s one of those delightful few magazines that is just as at home on your bookshelf as your magazine stack.
Editor: Cesare Alemanni
Art Director: Tom Garner